Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, often shortened to Jiu Jitsu or abbreviated to BJJ, is a ground fighting and grappling based martial art with Japanese roots and Brazilian modifications. Japan gave birth and the Gracie family of Brazil nurtured. Now a global submission combat sport of chokes and joint locks — popularised with the growth of Mixed Martial arts — its influence has spread way beyond its foundation years of Japanese Brazilian beginnings.
The Gentle Art
The art of BJJ developed and evolved under the concept that a weaker or smaller person can neutralise a bigger or stronger opponent. This is a physical art designed to empower. Utilising leverage and technique, a well-practiced and skilled grappler can prevail; irrespective of size or strength. David can best Goliath.
Jiu-Jitsu is also known as the gentle art. This means that if practiced correctly with technique not strength, and with discipline and humility, the practitioners should not injure each another. If caught in a submissive trap, all the submittee need do is tap the submitter’s body or issue the word ‘submit’ and the hold will be safely released. Thereby leaving him or her unharmed.
There’s four fundamental components to the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu “square” — assuming the fight or contest starts on the feet. If any of the components or sides of the square fails or goes missing, the square will “collapse” and the fight or contest is at a higher risk of going south.
(1) Close the distance
(2) Execute a takedown
(3) Assume a dominant position
(4) Submit opponent
Close the Distance
In a standing position, a grappler or ground fighter is vulnerable to strikes. This is the red or danger zone. And this red or danger zone is about 1m distance from opponent. Knowing this, a skilled BJJ practitioner will position him/herself beyond the red or danger zone. This is the green zone. The green zone is close proximity to nullify strikes or standing approximately 1m beyond the reach of strikes.
The second step is a takedown. And this happens in the green zone. This means the grappler has closed the distance to nullify a striker’s weapons and from there he/she will attempt to take their opponent to the ground. This is a takedown. There are many takedown techniques.
Assume a Dominant Position
Next the grappler will look to dominate. The best positions to dominate or incapacitate an opponent on the ground are side control, back control and mount. From any of these controlling positions, a ground fighter will look to execute the finisher.
Submit or Finish Opponent
Executing the finisher is the final step. The two broad categories of submissions are chokes and joint locks. There are numerous variations of each.
Gi or No Gi
Jiu-Jitsu training can be undertaken with and without wearing a Gi. From a traditional perspective, a Gi is mandatory and will teach you many ways in which to hold or stall an opponent. Alternatively, not wearing a Gi is called No Gi training. There are arguments for both sides; with and without a Gi. The debate continues.
Yours in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu,
NB. The everyday term used for training in BJJ is rolling.